Well, Covid caught up with Small Steps. We’re delaying the world premier after an actor had a breakthrough infection. No one else caught it in our rehearsal room, so that’s good. Masks and vaccinations worked.
THE APOCALYPSE PROJECT
In addition to the college, a couple high schools are producing The Apocalypse Project. It’s a play about young people living in an apocalypse that wasn’t their fault, eating dirt, and hearing the words, “go on, my dears.” Y’all gotta know that it means the world for get that one out there a bit. And if masks are needed, they fit the world.
The Hyde Park Theatre workshop was a blast, and a new draft has emerged. Check it out here. It’s certainly for far more mature audiences.
THE NEW PLAY STUFF
In other news, I’ve started my newest play for teenagers with my high school collaborators. Austin moving to Covid Stage 5 – which is the “there are negative ICU beds available in Travis County” stage – means the theatre space remains storage and we’ve built an outdoor theatre so I can safely make work this semester.
We decided to produce a comedy. I have never written a broad slapstick play for the high schoolers, and an outdoor space works. The concept will involve Christmas and theme parks.
After a month of playing around and creating the messy stuff, we’re at a point where the devising can start to hone in on specific stories and characters. I’m asking the young folks to bring in ‘tropes’ from holiday narratives, from which we’ll mine characters to smash into each other in improvised scenes.
Before we crank out this list, we’ll begin with a narrative-building improv warm-up that teaches heightening. It’s pretty simple: go around the circle and come up with a series of escalating rumors about the setting.
We’ll even have some Christmas cookies…
The cookies could be important. One of the keys to working this way is for the young actors/student/collaborator to not feel like they’re pressured to perform – that we’re goofing around being silly when we’re creating story and character.
After dozens of plays, I have a good grasp of my process. I know how long things take. That said, this calendar-based creativity has the potential to compromise the art, couldn’t it? Theatre takes time, and I could see the rigorous schedule as potentially harmful. Instead of introspection or expression, there’d be filler.
But I am an anxious creature, which means that deadlines have always been my greatest ally. Even in grad school, deadlines cut through my perfectionism.
Make a choice.
Make it now.
Make it good.
Get the words down. Get them on the page.
On your mark. Get ready. Go.
I’ll see you on the other side of the draft.
If you want a quick spreadsheet for easy access to my work for teens, check it out here.
And for a downloadable PDF of my catalogue of theatre-for-teens, check it out here.